Colorado has no shortage of amazing venues for executive-level gatherings, most that offer a taste of adventure, so it’s not all work and no play. They are a bit off the beaten path, but that’s why they are over-the-top special and perfect for focusing on the meetings at hand.
Dunton Hot Springs
Located in the former mining town of Dunton (established in 1885), Dunton Hot Springs is the result of a seven-year design and renovation effort after the current owner purchased
the town in 1994.
Surrounded by the San Juan Mountains and situated on 1,600 acres with 8 miles of private access to the Dolores River, Dunton Hot Springs is located between Telluride and Cortez. One luxury tent and 12 carefully restored cabins accommodate up to 44 for weddings and families, but a typical buyout for an executive retreat is 20 guests.
The Dance Hall and Pony Express Boardroom provide surroundings that are anything but ho-hum, with casual and formal meals served in the historic Butch Cassidy Saloon or on the deck. Chefs use local and regional ingredients, including some from the property’s own farm and its winery Sutcliffe Vineyards near Cortez. An open kitchen concept allows guests to watch meal preparation and even lend a hand.
Afternoons can be set aside for fun with miles of Nordic skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing trails, along with ice climbing, heli-skiing and dog sledding available in winter and plentiful options for hiking, biking, rock climbing, rafting and horseback riding during fair weather. Certified guides can create custom options for groups such as a Survivor course and an Amazing Race adventure. Vineyard tours and tastings, yoga, spa treatments, soaks in the hot springs and art
lessons also are available.
The latest addition is Dunton River Camp at Cresto Ranch, which opened last year and is located 4 miles downriver. Cresto Ranch consists of eight luxury canvas tents for lodging and a restored 19th-century farmhouse for meals.
Built originally as a private ranch, the Kessler family opened this exceptional property, situated north of DeBeque and east of Grand Junction, to guests in 2008. Located within a canyon along Brush Creek, executives have 23,000 acres to explore. Canyon Shooting Academy, hunting, fishing, ATV tours, mountain biking and hiking are among the outdoor adventures offered at the property, typically open from March through December.
Cooking classes and helping in the kitchen with personable Executive Chef Lenny McNab (who recently appeared on the Food Network) give guests the opportunity to engage in an indoor adventure. “There is a lot to do at Kessler Canyon, and people really feel like they are getting away from headquarters,” says Shawn Bendig, national group director of sales for Kessler Collection.
Meetings in the boardroom overlooking Orchard Lake are certainly more invigorating than back at the office, and lunch is often served just steps away in the outdoor pavilion. The downstairs theater can seat up to 15 for presentations or videos. The 3,000-square-foot Trophy Hall in the Guesthouse building has large side doors that open to a spacious lawn and works well to host meetings for up to 30 seated and gatherings for a maximum of 300 standing with the garage doors open. There are 15 guest rooms between the Homestead and Guesthouse and four cabins in the wilderness.
RMC, a destination management company with offices in five states, has held two executive- level retreats at Kessler Canyon, including a board of advisors gathering that brought in people from Dallas, St. Louis, Salt Lake City and Aspen. “Kessler Canyon is an intimate place we could get away to and feel like we’ve been traveling a thousand miles, but it’s only a few hours away,” says President Nathan Boyd. The group met in the boardroom and enjoyed gathering around a fire on the patio with cocktails before dinner. “The chef was amazing; the meals that were prepared were second to none,” Boyd says. RMC utilized the fishing ponds, canoes and shooting range practice before heading out to hunt with bird dogs.
Eagles Nest Ranch
One of the newest options available for corporate retreats is Eagles Nest Ranch, a private hunting and sporting ranch encompassing approximately 45,000 acres along the South Platte River on Highway 34, 25 minutes east of Greeley. From October through March, groups of up to 12 can book a four-day, three night stay from Sunday through Wednesday.
A typical retreat starts with an informational lunch followed by target practice, a gun safety session, reception and cookout. The second and third days usually involve bird hunting excursions, gourmet picnic lunch in the field, dinner and evening business discussions. Golfing on the ranch’s nine-hole golf course, fishing for trout and bass, and hiking or walking tours are additional options.
Stays at the ranch can be booked through The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, which has an exclusive 50-year lease. “Eagles Nest Ranch is an intimate destination in one of the most beautiful regions of Colorado. It offers the challenge and excitement of sport as well as an escape from the daily demands of the business world,” says John Rovie, vice president of sales and marketing for The Broadmoor.
Scarp Ridge Lodge
Situated just two blocks off Crested Butte’s colorful Elk Avenue, Scarp Ridge Lodge offers activities by in-house outfitters that are customized to fit the needs of guests and corporate groups. “Retreats can incorporate anything from mountain biking and rock climbing to make it a teaching moment,” says Jennifer Jeffery, marketing and sales director or Eleven Experience, which owns the lodge.
After a two-year renovation, the 1885-era Victorian building reopened almost three years ago as a top-end property with five suites, a bunk room and guest room with amenities such as a library, cinema, lounge, rooftop hot tub and indoor saltwater swimming pool area with a 10-person hot tub, sauna and steam room.
The lodge is only rented in its entirety, and a nearby overflow building has three suites and a guest room, accommodating an additional 10 guests. A concierge and personal chef make organizing activities and meals easy.
Scarp Ridge Lodge is especially well known for snowcat skiing/snowboarding experiences. Guests are picked up in a luxury snowcat for a picturesque ride to Irwin, a former mining town. Eleven’s outfitters offer many other activities around the valley such as crosscountry skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, fishing, rafting and rock climbing.
For executive retreats that inspire and refresh, Colorado offers all sorts of peak experiences in the mountains and on the plains.